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Of mice and men: Dissecting the interaction between Listeria monocytogenes Internalin A and murine vs human E-Cadherin,

Journal article
Authors Samuel Genheden
Leif A Eriksson
Published in Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
Volume 6
Issue 7
Pages 1-13
ISSN 2001-0370
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Pages 1-13
Language en
Keywords Internalin A, E-cadherin, molecular dynamics, energy decomposition, umbrella sampling
Subject categories Theoretical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biophysical chemistry


We report a study of the interaction between internalin A (inlA) and human or murine E-cadherin (Ecad). inlA is used by Listeria monocytogenes to internalize itself into host cell, but the bacterium is unable to invade murine cells, which has been attributed to the difference in sequence between hEcad and mEcad. Using molecular dynamics simulations, MM/GBSA free energy calculations, hydrogen bond analysis, water characterization and umbrella sampling, we provide a complete atomistic picture of the binding between inlA and Ecad. We dissect key residues in the protein–protein interface and analyze the energetics using MM/GBSA. From this analysis it is clear that the binding of inlA–mEcad is weaker than inlA–hEcad, on par with the experimentally observed inability of inlA to bind to mEcad. However, extended MD simulations of 200 ns in length show no destabilization of the inlA–mEcad complex and the estimation of the potential of mean force (PMF) using umbrella sampling corroborates this conclusion. The binding strength computed from the PMFs show no significant difference between the two protein complexes. Hence, our study suggests that the inability of L. monocytogenes to invade murine cells cannot be explained by processes at the nanosecond to sub-microsecond time scale probed by the simulations performed here.

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